Pak and Geo aka Prometheus Brown (Blue Scholars) in the studio during recording of “First Avenue,” hanging with family on Whidbey Island, and rocking Bumbershoot 2011.
This morning we received a report from PayPal of all the generous donations made since July through our “First Avenue” music video fundraising campaign, and so we thought it would only be fitting to give an update on the project’s progress.
Last June we were introduced to filmmaker Jeff Santos, who has worked with the likes of hip hop artist Wizdom, the Massive Monkees, and the Washington Huskies football team. We met at Caffé Vita and drove around Seward Park as he listened to “First Avenue” for the very first time. He liked it and enthusiastically agreed to take on the role of principal director. We met for a second time at the Panama Hotel in Chinatown, where we plan to film the video’s opening scene.
The Panama Hotel, built in 1910 by the first Japanese-American architect in Seattle, Sabro Ozasa, containing the last remaining Japanese bathhouse (sento) in the United States, and the namesake of the bestselling novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009) by Jamie Ford.
At the Panama Hotel we sat down with the owner, Jan Johnson, who dedicates her life to preserving post-WWII Japanese American history, working tirelessly to her daily mantra: “The beginning of the end of war is remembering.” The walls of the Panama Hotel are adorned with black and white photos from the 1940s showing what the area looked like before and after the internment of the Japanese.
Photo of a Japanese internment camp from a Washington State high school history textbook. The boy closest to the camera is `Ohana owner Kyle Yoshimura’s Uncle Irwin, the man in the middle testing the wood stove is his grandfather Denny, the woman directly behind him is his grandmother Ruth, and the baby in her lap is his father.
One of the many children born in internment camps after World War II was the father of Kyle Yoshimura, owner of `Ohana in Belltown, which will be the setting of the final scene in the video. We will be interviewing Kyle very soon and will be posting a blog all about his family’s history. And as we get closer to the shoot dates, we will be putting out a casting call for extras for the final scene, which will be an all-out party at `Ohana, sponsored in part by a very exciting collaboration which we can’t announce just yet!
All in all, the “First Avenue” video will be a balance between a historical view on the Japanese internment and how it may have affected the relationships between the Japanese and the Filipinos (many of whom were brought in to fill the jobs that were lost by the Japanese), a commentary on the power of relationships and the struggles in moving apart, as well as a modern day example of the collaboration between reggae and hip hop. As you all know, our braddah Geo aka Prometheus Brown of Blue Scholars is featured on the track and will most likely cameo on the video. If you’d like to be featured as a co-producer of the video, feel free to donate right here. Stay tuned for more updates…